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Saturday November 5, 2011

A new facet to Italian dining


BY EU HOOI KHAW

Il Lido 183 Jalan Mayang, off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2161 2291 Il Lido has gone pork-free, but the Italian classics on its menu remain true to their origins, under the skilful hands of a new chef. WHEN Il Lido opened in June last y ear, it offered an Italian menu with pork dishes, similar to what it had in its fine dining restaurant in Singapore. In July this y ear, the restaurant decided to go pork-free and went through all the cleansing rituals, before reopening in August with a new menu under new chef Andrea Zanella.

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So our dinner was mostly about v eal, beef, seafood and some almost v egetarian dishes. So think Veal Ossobucco with Saffron Risotto, Ewes Milk Rav ioli with Truffle and Honey Sauce, Gnocchi with Basil and Garlic Pesto, Zucchini and Pine Nuts. We had heard Zanella is good with v eal, and produces some excellent pasta in this restaurant. We also found out that he cooks some great risotto, too. Take, for instance, the Carnaroli Risotto with Cray fish. Carnaroli is risotto rice from Northern Italy , has longer grains that absorb a lot of water and are plumper when cooked. The risotto was good creamy and smooth, infused with the naturally sweet flav ours of the cray fish. This fine dining Italian restaurant, which first opened in Singapore in 2006, is concentrating on Italian classics which are not common in KL.

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Green Asparagus with Organic Egg and Porcini Mushroom Pesto

We noticed this as we picked the appetisers Green Asparagus with Organic Egg and Porcini Mushroom Pesto, Zucchini Flower & Mozzarella Fritter with Vegetable Caponata and Crab Salad with Watermelon and Tomato Elisir. The amuse bouche at the start of dinner was Marinated Kingfish with Arugula, a slice of fish touched with herbs, and left a little raw to preserv e its smoothness. The Green Asparagus with Organic Egg and Porcini Mushroom Pesto was unlike any thing I had tasted before. A fried egg sat ov er three asparagus spears, which in turn rested on the mushroom pesto. It was a delicious way to eat v egetables. The asparagus was coated with a cheesy sauce, which blended with the egg, and the luscious aromatic porcini pesto. There were all these wonderful textures and flav ours that harmonised with one another. I lov e zucchini flowers and hav e not had one in a long time. This one had just a little too much batter, and the flower was slightly soggy . Tomato, eggplant and herbs made up the caponata.

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Carnaroli Risotto with Crayfish

Fresh, clean flav ours emanated from the Crab Salad with Watermelon and Tomato Elisir. The round of sweet crabmeat sat on a thin slice of watermelon bathed in tomato juice. Purple shiso and dill atop the crabmeat added a fragrant dimension to it. Pasta is still considered a starter in an Italian meal. The Rav ioli al Miele Tartufato or Ewes Milk Rav ioli with Truffle-infused Honey and Black Peppercorn is to die for. Its a signature dish from Sardinia, famed for sheep cheeses and truffle. Here, the chefs deft hand was ev ident: the rav ioli was al dente; there was the salty , cheesy burst at the bite, contrasting with the fragrant truffle honey . Black truffle shav ings and black peppercorns were further enhancements. Angus Beef Short Ribs Braised in Barolo Wine had scrumptious meat with a smoky aroma falling off the bone and into a red wine sauce. Its to be sav oured slowly , with the sublime sauce. Ossobucco con Risotto is the traditional Milanese main course of v eal shank braised intensely for a couple of hours with v egetables and wine. Zanella had this deconstructed and presented on a long plate, with the tender boneless meat on one end, the saffron risotto in the middle, and the bone marrow on the other end. So y ou go from meat to the lov ely risotto, and spoon up the bits of marrow from the bone. The meat could hav e been

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a little more moist, but all the flav ours of the braising sauce were concentrated there.

Ravioli al Miele Tartufato

We finished dinner with Lemon Flan with Fresh Strawberries and Vanilla Pannacotta with Red Berries. The lemon flan had slices of strawberry fanning out from beneath. Cut into it and the runny centre oozes out. It had lots of oomph, the tart balanced with the sweet, encased in buttery pastry and topped with sugared lemon zest. It tasted just wonderful. I hav e had pannacotta at Il Lido before, but this one seemed lighter, but still silky and shiv ery , cov ered with a sugar net. It was just the kind of dessert y ou would want after a heav y dinner. The petit fours that came were Chiacchiere, a ty pe of traditional Italian sweet fritters that were buttery and light, dusted with icing sugar. The fritters were not sweet and were so addictiv e I couldnt stop eating them. I had spotted them sitting on a large plate on the counter at the entrance, as I walked into Il Lido, like a bowl of sweets y ou could help y ourself to. The chefs creativ ity and v ersatility is expressed in 40 dishes from all parts of Italy on the new pork-free Il Lido menu. Apart from a la carte items, and the three set menus priced at RM148, RM158 and RM198, there is also a three-course lunch at RM49 with daily specials from Monday to Friday .

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